The hybrid Prius introduced technology that has evolved into all-electric battery operated vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf five passenger sedan. In the Prius, a battery was used to share the driving requirements, thereby reducing the amount of gasoline required to drive the vehicle.
As battery technology improved and costs reduced, the hybrid was provided with a plug-in capability. GM then proposed the Volt which is a plug-in all-electric vehicle with range extending capabilities realized by including a small internal combustion engine. Finally, the Nissan Leaf all-electric battery operated sedan was announced.
The all-electric Nissan Leaf has a range of 100 miles without a range extender. There have been press stories about the next generation Leaf which because of battery improvements will have a range of about 190 miles.
In 2011, Nissan projects selling 50,000 Leaf sedans, Coda plans to import 20,000 Chinese manufactured all-electric sedans, and GM will be producing the Volt vehicle.
All the major automobile companies have announced the availability of electric vehicles.
The US government has extended a $1.4 billion loan to Nissan to expand its Tennessee facilities in order to produce 150,000 Leaf vehicles and 200,000 battery packs in 2012, and provided a grant of $99.8 million to eTec to install 12,000 charging stations in 11 western and Tennessee cities.
Proterra has developed the first fast charge battery electric full-sized transit buses which are now in operation in California. These buses evolved from the Federal Transit Administration R&D funding in 2005.
The reception by the transit industry for this bus has led Proterra to build a $60 million bus manufacturing facility in South Carolina.
Balqon has a fleet all-electric battery operated tractors that can haul 30 ton cargo containers and other heavy duty short haul trucks in the Port of Los Angeles.
Smith Electric offers a wide variety of battery electric delivery vans and medium-duty trucks.